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January 8 2016

Way to Go, Oregon! State becomes first to offer "OTC" birth control

Hadley Heath

Finally, at least in one state, women can be treated like the adults they are. In Oregon, women can now go to a pharmacy, have their blood pressure checked, and leave with birth control pills in hand. California is set to be the next state to institute such a policy.

The bottom line is that there's no medical need for women to visit a doctor before getting a prescription for birth control. Women are capable of determining if and when they want to use birth control. Removing the hurdle of a doctor's visit means easier access to safe, effective birth control pills, and may lead to fewer unintended pregnancies. And remember, ObamaCare will leave about 31 million people uninsured, and for them, the savings on paying for a doctor's visit could be meaningful. For women who are covered for such visits, they can save something even more valuable than money: their time. This is clearly a win-win situation.

Now, importantly, the changes in Oregon -- while good -- don't exactly mean birth control will be sold like candy or aspirin. Women still need a prescription, but a pharmacist can write and fill this script in one visit, rather than making women go to a doctor's office first and then to a pharmacy. This means that laws like ObamaCare can still require insurance programs to cover these drugs first-dollar. This should calm the fears of big-government types who've worried that women aren't capable of paying out-of-pocket for their own routine drugs.

But an even better policy would eliminate this insurance requirement, the so-called "birth control mandate" on insurance companies. Why? Because routine health care simply shouldn't be covered by insurance. Insurance works best when used only for unexpected costs. If everyone paid out of pocket for birth control, then the sellers of those drugs would have to expose their prices to us, the direct consumers, and would therefore have to compete on price. Price competition lowers prices and increases access. What's not to love? Well, the statists hate it because it requires just a smidge of personal responsibility... something they can't stand.

But deregulating birth control at the state level, even if just expanding the professionals who can prescribe it, is a step in the right direction. Way to go, Oregon. Other states should do the same. 

 

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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